This is what it looks like when a community designs its own school

At its best, nothing is more unifying and vital to a community’s civic health than a high-quality neighborhood school. Why, then, do all notions of “school choice” end up being about either charter or private schools?

Enter Oakland SOL, a new dual-immersion middle school in the Flatlands section of Oakland, California — and the district’s first new school in more than a decade.

Created over three years of hard work and careful planning by a motivated group of local parents and educators, Oakland SOL paints a different picture of school choice — one that is squarely grounded in the aspirations of the families and children who will comprise its community core.

To some, it’s a murky picture. After all, Oakland’s school district already has more schools than it can afford; it faces up to a $30 million budget shortfall. Yet when you consider that after fifth grade, one of every four students in the district leaves the system, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel is making a different sort of bet — one that will require districts to become more responsive to local needs and demands.

“If we can provide programs that help them make the choice to stay in our district, I actually do think that’s fiscally responsible,” said Katherine Carter, SOL’s founding principal. “It shows the district cares about creating quality experiences for our kids and our families.”

“This was really rooted in parent demand,” added Gloria Lee, president and chief executive of a local nonprofit that supports new public school options. “I hope it is the first and not the only example of a way the district can continue to evolve and create new innovative programs that serve the really diverse families in Oakland more effectively.”

We know more than we think we do.

Now is the time for a new learning story.


Categories: Democracy, Equity, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change, Parenting, Starting a School

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    This is a beautiful school.

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